Coaching philosophies

Earlier this week I had a couple of excellent questions offered up. After a bit of a whirlwind past couple of weeks of travel, I’ve had a bit of a chance to catch up and here is my take on this. Since my response is based purely on my experiences and observations, I’m open to anyone’s thoughts and look forward to any comments in regards to my reply.

Q1. Do you think that there exists a coach that has all the right philosophies as well as being able to take on an athlete’s thoughts about their own body and what works for them?

A1. If we are relating this specifically to CrossFit, let me establish there currently exists a significant difference now between training to be a CrossFit athlete i.e. for performance, as opposed to training to be better at CrossFit i.e. for fitness.

This divergence while gradual at first is now too obvious to ignore. Most people are also more willing to accept now that just training at CrossFit will not qualify you as a Games athlete the way it did ten years ago when the concept of the Games made its inaugural appearance.

So if we look at the training philosophies of training at CrossFit for fitness, it is important to consider that fitness, as defined by CrossFit is “increased work capacity across broad time, modal, [and age] domains.”
CrossFit has purposefully maintained this philosophy and if you follow the foundations of functional movement, “the aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness supported by measurable, observable and repeatable results”.

For the majority of Box owners and coaches, consistently delivering this philosophy in the form of “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity” is why we have continuously seen improvements to the general health and fitness of hundreds of thousands of people on a global scale.

The effectiveness in the execution and delivery of this philosophy by affiliate Boxes Globally has attributed to the growth in the popularity over the past ten years.

However, with such rapid growth, there is always a risk of interpretation on the execution of the philosophies. In many ways, CrossFit does a lot to ensure Coaches & Box owners have access to relevant and up-to-date information to ensure the safety of the members who train at their gym.

At the same time, individuals now have access to an abundance of online literature which simply did not exist going back ten, or even five years ago. This greater access to information can go a long way in assisting these individuals in educating themselves so to ensure they are indeed getting the best from their training, or in some cases misinforming them, depending on the reliability and/or credibility of the source.

On the performance side of CrossFit a.k.a. Competitive CrossFit, the philosophies of training which were built on the foundations of fitness as defined by CrossFit, have been forced to rapidly evolve due to the incredible demands for performance which are from at direct result of the growth of the competition.

At the performance level, this is why the philosophies of a regular box coach may not necessarily transfer over to the philosophies of “sports performance”, which is now a prerequisite to compete at Games level and in many ways, also to be able to compete at the Regional Level.

Since we have a very limited history of CrossFit as a competitive sport, this has created an environment which has challenged both the athlete and the coach to keep evolving with the sport as it grows.

As we continue to see the “Sport of Fitness” evolve, so too does the opportunities for both coaches and athletes to grow and develop their philosophies about training for the “Sport of Fitness”.

So in answer to the question, fundamentally yes, there can and clearly are coaches who share all the right philosophies required to ensure they can take on an athlete’s thoughts about their body and what works for them. However, these coaches and their philosophies would need to be constantly challenged by both athlete and coach to ensure their validity, as the competitive aspect continues to evolve.

Athletes who are looking for a coach to work with at the high-performance level will face times where they won’t see eye to eye with their coach. It is inevitable, and it’s going to happen.

However, both must be able to move beyond seeing conflict as necessarily a bad thing. Just like any relationship. In coaching for performance, there needs to be a plan and an agreed strategy. Both athlete and coach(es) have a common goal.
It is important to remember both coach and athlete plays significantly different roles required to achieve the common goal.

It is the athlete’s responsibility to push as hard as they possibly can to reach their physical limit, while it is the coaches responsibility to assist the athlete in discovering where that actual limit is.

Q2. If you had a coach that worked with you more (i.e. The coach above), do you think it would have prolonged your competitive career?

A2. For athletes who have trained to compete at the Games, the demands of the Sport of Fitness not only to prepare for the competition but also to compete at that level, is something which they quickly identify as requiring 100% commitment.

While I had set a timeframe to retire, my reasons for retiring from the competitive level were initially to spend more time with my family, while return to study so as to gain the necessary skills and qualifications which I felt were needed to be able to coach at the performance level effectively.

However, I did not anticipate the eight months off needed post competition due to recovering from adrenal fatigue which was a direct result of overtraining and what I now see was a complete lack of regard for my physical wellbeing.

From this experience, I realised if I wanted to be successful in my coaching career, I would need to combine my experience of being a Games level Athlete with an in-depth understanding of training principles and performance programming techniques.

Moving forward, I am now very consciously aware of who I choose to work with including their background, skills and credibility. And through my experiences, I encourage each and every one of you to do the same.

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